"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
Friday, September 19th, 2014
Volume ∞ Issue ∞
- 1:41:34, Sep 19th 2014 - yorty - Parade is at 11 am ... [Read More]
- 1:00:41, Sep 19th 2014 - - Visited the facebook page of The Fillmore County Journal and was unable to find mo ... [Read More]
- 10:46:40, Sep 19th 2014 - KingslandGrad95 - Gussie, so what if the "Deputy" was asleep? Maybe he was tired. Y ... [Read More]
- 10:40:04, Sep 18th 2014 - Gussie - Well Kingslandgrad for starters how about a few nights ago on my way to wor ... [Read More]
- 9:45:10, Sep 17th 2014 - email@example.com - Okay they gave you the we want to help the world and full of ... [Read More]
- 11:05:24, Sep 16th 2014 - - Good and informative but wish it stated the TIME of the parade! Coming from out-o ... [Read More]
- 1:05:53, Sep 15th 2014 - KingslandGrad95 - Gussie, what's your proof that stuff like this happens at the Fillm ... [Read More]
- 10:45:10, Sep 12th 2014 - Bill Butler - The article contains the usual deniers’ slogans, but as per usual is ... [Read More]
- 9:13:55, Sep 11th 2014 - Great Aunt Linda - Great article on becoming a doctor in MN. Congrats to Morgan. ... [Read More]
- 10:07:39, Sep 10th 2014 - Gussie - Well put. If people only knew what went on at the Fillmore County Sheriff's ... [Read More]
Fri, Mar 4th, 2011
Posted in Education
Posted in Education
Jeff Thompson works as the IT technician at both Fillmore Central and Spring Grove schools. As a computer person, he is very excited about new technology that could mean big changes in the future of education.
Interactive television (ITV) has allowed two students at Fillmore Central to attend a class that is given in Spring Grove. Kate McIntosh and Jessie Tammel sit in on a Home Interior Design class that is taught by a teacher more than twenty miles away, all thanks to a grant.
Thompson explained there are 22 schools in southern Minnesota involved in the Generation Now Learning Project made possible by the RUS (Rural Utility Service) grant. Ryan Luft of Southland started a group of schools from the Southeast Service Co-op, a group that worked together to apply for this grant. The money the schools received paid for staff training and the equipment needed for the interactive class.
"It really worked out with Spring Grove and Fillmore Central because they are on the same block schedule," said Thompson. "It's really ideal, because lining up the schedule would be extremely difficult otherwise."
Nancy Gulbranson teaches the class from Spring Grove, where she is also the principal. The students at Fillmore Central sit in a room with the large television screen that is connected to one in Spring Grove. The students can see and hear everything that is going on.
"It's just like being there," said Thompson.
Thompson said it didn't take long into the first class before the barrier of the television screen disappeared. "There are no limitations with the ITV system," he said. "It's just no big deal to them." He added they talk to the kids in the class just like any other group of students.
"I'm extremely fired up about this," shared Thompson. "All schools are facing budget cuts and declining enrollment. If we can get students into the classrooms without sending them on the bus, this will be great."
Another bit of technology that is being used more in schools is Google Docs. Google Docs allows the kids to use word processing, power points, and spread sheets and save them to the Google server. Students can take notes and do homework assignments and share them with anyone who has access. The teacher in another location can read the assignments instantly.
Fillmore Central science teacher Darrin Ellsworth has also attended training on the ITV, and Thompson is hoping he will be offering a shared science class with Spring Grove sometime in the future.
Thompson said he has wanted the school to implement this technology for a number of years, but the money has never been there. Thompson is excited about all of the possibilities and all of the things the school could offer, including shared staff development with other districts.
Another way that ITV could change things in smaller schools is being able to offer classes that might not be available otherwise. Thompson said there are classes in certain areas that are getting smaller, and they are difficult to offer when there are only a few students interested. Using this videoconferencing technology, a class could be offered at Fillmore Central that would be taught by a teacher in any of the other schools involved.
Thompson told of a Spanish teacher in Spring Grove that used the internet program Skype and a laptop to connect to a classroom in Mexico. This gave their learning a new dimension, something that the students will always remember. The ITV program uses a large, hi-definition screen with many features that make the students feel connected.
Another bonus to the ITV is the ability of the schools to register online for ITV field trips. Students can be connected with places like NASA and the Smithsonian, almost like they were really there.
Thompson is grateful to Gulbranson and Fillmore Central Principal Heath Olstad for stepping up and giving ITV a try. He said his goal is to use the staff they have and maybe even bring more students to Fillmore Central.
"We have to look at how we can use it," said Thompson. "We could offer so many more things. We have classes that we could add numbers to if we offered it this way."
Advances in technology mean changes in the way students are learning, changes that can mean convenience and more opportunities. The ITV program is just one step in making these changes.